Skip to content

Norwich V Leeds: Championship Playoff Semi-Final, First Leg – Live

Key events

Show key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this feature

28 min Better from Leeds, Summerville winning it high and moving the ball on to Gnonto … but a terrific sliding challenge from Nunez averts the danger. So far, Norwich are dominating Leeds physically.

26 min I wonder if Farke is already wondering about how to get his attackers into this game. On the one hand, Norwich were always likely to start fast, on the other, Leeds’ inability to retain possession is allowing them to continue dictating.

24 min A quickly-taken throw allows Sargent to find Rowe who, crossing with the outside of his boot, sends a lovely ball into the corridor. But no one gambles so it whizzes across the face and Leeds clear. They’re under it though, and that lack of an out-ball is causing them problems: they can’t get it forward and build from there.

23 min Meslier then botches another kick and Norwich should be looking to test him whenever possible because he’s nervous.

22 min And here come Norwich again, Rowe carrying it well and finding Sargent who moves one more to McLean, the eventuating shot flying high and wide.

22 min As for Daniel Farke, who looks not unlike a chamber-music-loving student, he’ll be happy Leeds have ceded few chances but unhappy with how they’ve kept the ball.

21 min This is good work from Norwich, winning a succession of set-pieces in dangerous areas. But Wagner will be frustrated their poor delivery means they’ve yielded no decent chances, and this latest one is no different.

20 min Rodon heads clear but Rutter, at right-back, looks to take Sara on, he’s caught, and forced to cede yet another free-kick, down the left and a foot in from the touchline.

18 min Good work from Sainz, running at the Leeds defence and beating one man then leaving another; Gruev fouls him and it’s another free-kick to Norwich, 3o yards out, Nunez to take. He goes short and wide, Giannoulis crossing in, and Gray heads behind; pressure is building…

16 min Meslier has made a mess of a couple of kicks already and when he plays a teammate into trouble going short, Norwich win a free-kick 25 yards out and form a second wall in front of Leeds’; Sara looks to be cute, going low around its near side, and the save is easy for the keeper.

15 min Stacey finds a lane down the right, Rowe flicking him in, and the cross is a decent one, stood up towards the penalty spot and Sargent is there! But Rodon does just enough to get in the road and he can’t make proper contact.

13 min Rodon almost makes first contact but the ball’s cleared to Gnonto on the edge and he makes a decent connection, leathering low. But a defender – I don’t see which – blocks the shot and a Norwich counter comes to nowt.

13 min It’s Summerville who takes it, Stacey heading behind, so here come the corner.

12 min Sargent nips in front of Rodon and takes the ball to the side of him, but the defender recovers well to slide in – more desperately that he’d have liked to. Leeds then break and win a free-kick down the left, just outside the box; Sumerville and Gruev are behind the ball.

10 min Leeds have calmed things down a little, and then we see a replay of a sixth-minute event during which my SkyGo must’ve crashed, Gnonto dipping inside Giannoulis, who pulled him down. It was just outside the right edge of the box, I think, so the ref was right not to award a penalty – but I’d like another look.

9 min Byram into space for Gnonto, who catches up with the ball on the by-line, swivels into a pull-back … and can’t find Rutter.

8 min “Good evening from Brisbane,” offers Phil Withall. “I’m stuck in the awkward position of feeling defeat for Norwich will be a disappointment, after the run of bad form earlier this season. However, the thought of nine months of purgatory in the Premier league may well be worse. The joy of being Norwich supporter….”

A Leeds-supporting mate of mine says the same. He wants his team to go up. but for what?

6 min First, Giannoulis reads Byram’s intentions, blocks him off, and Meslier has to clear, then Gnonto incurs down the left, crosses low … and Rutter’s there! But under pressure, he absolutely laces fresh air into the top corner, as the ball passes through his legs.

5 min This, though, was the daddy of the genre – and it’s lead’s dad, Steve Kember, played for Palace in the 70s.

5 min Anyone else see Gruev’s name and find themselves humming this theme tune?

3 min Leeds get the corner away but Rowe returns to have a go at Firpo, winning a throw. Norwich can’t make anything of it, Nunez eventually shanking wide, but this is good from the home side.

2 min McLean barges Gray out of possession and finds Sainz down the left, who wins a corner off Byram. This is exactly the kind of start Norwich would’ve been hoping for, a physical contest of second-balls.

1 min Immediately, Gray finds himself on the ball in an advanced role, but he’s quickly eased off it and Norwich look to counter. And Sargent makes space with clever movement too, but the pass to him is poor.

1 min Leeds get us going, the ground a raucous pit of noise and nerves.

i should’ve said, Shane Duffy plays despite being charged with drink-driving earlier in the week.

AND HERE THEY COME! Carrow Road is full of yellow, flags waving.

I imagine, though, that Farke reckons between them, Gnonto, Summerville and Rutter will find the goals Leeds need to move on. I think that’s probably accurate, and my sense is that if they come away from Carrow Road with a win, Norwich don’t have the power to do likewise at Elland Road. But they might find it hard to build the play without a centre-forward comfortable with his back to goal; we shall see, because our teams are tunnelled!

Ethan Ampadu and Joe Rodon will be crucial today because Josh Sargeant will be looking to assert himself. If Leeds can keep him quiet over the two legs, it’s hard to see how they lose, but if they don’t, their own lack of a striker might be an issue.

“Fully agree with you on listing players in positional order!” says Doug French. “Maltese Shanghai Kopite here … and I started a petition against numerical ordering. This issue has been ignored for too long!”

Heroic work.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Archie Gray does today. OK, part of that is surname-based, but I like what I’ve seen of him this season and if he can adapt to a more attacking role, he could be the key man here.

“Underdogs can be dangerous and intense,” David Wagner tells Sky; Daniel Farke, meanwhile, says Leeds’ two wins over Norwich this season won’t make any difference to what happens today. It’s revealing stuff, I can tell you.

“Not upset with Bamford’s absence,” writes David Wood. “He is one of the reasons Leeds are in the playoffs.”

Perhaps – his finishing isn’t reliable, it’s fair to say. But as a focal point, I wonder if they’ll miss someone off whom they can play, especially away from home when they’re under pressure.

Midday is no time for a football match – especially when it’s hot. I don’t know whether it’ll make any difference, but I’m almost certain that the atmosphere at Elland Road on Thursday night will give Leeds a fillip Norwich won’t get from a lunchtime kick-off.

In the Sky studio, Troy Deeney reckons Norwich might sit back, let Leeds have the ball and look to counter. We shall see, but I’m not certain David Wagner will want to let this opportunity drift; I think he’ll want his side to be protagonists, especially early on.

Question that has nothing to do with anything: is it possible to run a sub-20 minute 5k without proper athletic ability? Asking for my only friend.

So how is this going to go? My sense is that Norwich try to make this a physical tussle, looking to get about Leeds early and put them under pressure before they can settle. Leeds, meanwhile – especially with Rutter up front – will look to play through midfield, keeping the ball to give their extra class the scope it needs to tell.

And here he is…

Photograph: InternetEmail! “Gordon James Ramsay was born in Johnstone, Scotland,” offers Andrew Bartlett, which is indeed the case; he was on Rangers’ books as a yout. However he still likes to to talk about good, honest, old-fashioned English food, so.

Leeds, meanwhile, are shy of a striker, Patrick Bamford having jiggered his knee. As such, Georgino Rutter plays centre-forward – he replaces Joël Piroe, who started there last time out – with Archie Gray replacing him in the attacking midfield role.

Otherwise, Norwich make two changes from the side that lost at St Andrews. At left-back, Dimitris Giannoulis replaces Sam McCallum; in midfield, Jacob Sørensen drops to the bench with Marcelino Núñez dropping back from number 10; and in his stead, Jonathan rowe comes in for his first start since January.

First things first: each of these sides will be welcome in the Premier League for their courtesy of giving their XIs in positional not numerical order. Proper good, honest, old-fashioned English football clubs.

Photograph: Gerry Penny/fiveTeams!Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Gunn; Stacey, Duffy, Gibson, Giannoulis; Núñnez, McLean; Rowe, Sara, Sainz; Sargent. Subs: Long, Hanley, Batth, McCallum, Fisher, Sørensen, Welch, Fassnacht, Van Hooijdonk.

Leeds United (4-3-3): Meslier; Byram, Rodon, Ampadu, Firpo; Gruev, Kamara, Gray; Summerville, Rutter, Gnonto. Subs: Darlow, Roberts, Cooper, Cresswell, Shackleton, Anthony, James, Piroe, Joseph.

PreambleCharlie Brooker once wrote that, though he didn’t like football, he could find pleasure in it “because all human suffering amuses me”. So we can only assume that, like the rest of us, he takes manic pleasure in the playoff system, specifically instituted to make people ill.

Leeds must wonder how it came to this. Just a few weeks ago, they were confident of automatic promotion, boasting a stable of varied attacking talents good enough for the Premier League. However to their chagrin – and that of the rest of the division, eager to see them gone at the earliest possible opportunity – they contrived four defeats and a draw from their final six games with even the sole win a struggle. As such , though they might now gather themselves and blow away the opposition … they also look primed to endure devastating heartbreak for our entertainment.

Except, the playoffs being the playoffs, Norwich – who finished sixth, closer to Millwall in 13th than to Leeds, 17 points in front – finished the season in similarly sketchy form, two draws and a defeat completing their league programme. The side that beat Ipswich a month ago might show … but likewise so might the one that just lost to relegated Birmingham. No one knows anything.

What we do know, though, is that this will be a lot of extremely intense fun. Norwich know they’ve to go for it and, as the fifth-highest scorers in the division have the wherewithal to force the issue. Leeds, though, have the second-best defence and are themselves the fourth-highest scorers, which is to say getting after them is a dangerous business. So stick with us because, either today or when the teams reconvene on Thursday night, all-consuming misery is imminent.

Kick-off: 12pm BST

Featured News